Thirteen Dutchess County school districts gathered at the Culinary Institute of America on June 6 for the annual Dutchess BOCES Distinguished Graduate Recognition Breakfast to honor their best and brightest seniors.
Deputy Superintendent Jodi DeLucia and Dutchess County Executive Sue Serino welcomed guests before breakfast and the recognitions followed, with each district presenting its own students.
BOCES honored Brayden Humbert, from the Resilience Academy, and Keyon Franklin, from the Pegasus Program. 
Humbert, who plans to study liberal arts at Columbia Community College, was a familiar face at school where he implemented events such as Unity Day and the Winter Holiday Festival as part of the Student Council and was a mentor to Pegasus students. Principal Kiesha Tillman said the word “contender” best describes Humbert.
“I know your accomplishments will go farther than this room because of your grit and determination not to give up,” Tillman said.
Franklin, who yearns to be a nurse, was an active member of the school community organizing student-centric events as part of the Student Council. He also shined in the work-based learning program where he made pizza boxes at various pizzerias and stocked shelves at Car Quest. Tillman’s word for Franklin was “conqueror.” 
“No matter the obstacles you’ve faced, you have shown you will succeed on your terms,” Tillman said.
Keynote speaker Pius Kayiira, founder and CEO of the Winner’s Circle Project, encouraged students to maximize opportunities as they arise and to be a good person, as it will open many doors.
“Approach everything with the right energy because, at the end of the day, I don’t know the last time I hired somebody and said, ‘Wow, what was your SAT score?’” Kayiira said. “I wanted to make sure they were a good teammate, a person that I wanted to see in the office.”
The breakfast also served as a showcase of student work up close as the Roy C. Ketcham High School String Ensemble provided music and the Poughkeepsie High School’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps color guard presented the American flag. Additionally, students from the Career & Technical Institute’s Plant & Animal Science program created floral centerpieces for the tables, which guests were encouraged to take home.